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Suspect confesses to killing British journalist, Indigenous expert in Amazon

A suspect on Wednesday confessed to killing British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira as they were working on a book about the environment in the Amazon, Brazilian authorities said. Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE
A suspect on Wednesday confessed to killing British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira as they were working on a book about the environment in the Amazon, Brazilian authorities said. Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE

June 15 (UPI) -- The first suspect arrested in the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira admitted to killing the pair, Brazilian authorities said Wednesday.

Regional Police Chief Eduardo Fontes said that Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, one of two brothers arrested in connection with their disappearance, confessed to killing Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, and provided information that led authorities to recover human remains.

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"On Tuesday he informed us the location where the bodies were buried and he promised to go with us today to the site so we could confirm where the bodies were buried," Fontes said.

Fontes said that the remains would be submitted to forensics experts for analysis.

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"We are now going to identify the human remains with the most dignity possible," Fontes said. "When the remains are proved to be those of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, they will be delivered to the families."

Phillips' wife, Alessandra Sampaio, said that today would "begin our quest for justice," adding that she hopes investigators would "exhaust all possibilities and bring definitive answers on all relevant details as soon as possible."

"Although we are still awaiting definitive confirmations, this tragic outcome puts an end to the anguish of not knowing Dom and Bruno's whereabouts," Sampaio said in a statement. "Now we can bring them home and say goodbye with love."

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Fontes said search teams plan to return to the site Thursday to locate the boat the men were last seen traveling along the Itaquai river in on June 5.

Phillips, a longtime freelance reporter, was working on a book about the environment and he and Pereira, a veteran indigenous rights protector, had received death threats for defending Indigenous groups against illegal fishing, mining and logging.

Police on Tuesday announced they had arrested a second suspect, 41-year-old Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, adding that some firearm cartridges and an oar were found amid a search of the Itaquai River region and will be analyzed.

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